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Anselm's Theory of Freedom

Author(s): Thomas Gwozdz

Journal: The Saint Anselm Journal
ISSN 1545-3367

Volume: 7;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 62;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: justice | original freedom | freedom of choice | will | grace

This article is a discussion of Saint Anselm's understanding of man as created in a state of original justice, the loss of that justice in the Fall and its restoration in redemption and grace. Before the Fall, man's original justice was an original freedom, namely, the pure inability to sin. By means of an accidental feature in human beings called freedom of choice between alternatives, man lost his original inability to sin. In fact, after the Fall man is unable not to sin. He has lost the gift of justice, no longer has an upright will, and is rendered powerless with respect to freedom. Against one's will, man now experiences all kinds of inordinate desires and temptation. Yet Anselm argues that temptation is ultimately impotent with regard to man's inner freedom which has been restored by the redemption and an all pervading grace. Man once again has uprightness of will. The miracle of it all is that God restores to man what man willingly chose to desert in the first place, namely, an original freedom, i.e., the will to choose the right thing. The discussion ends with the problem of grace and freedom: if God's grace is so pervading, how in fact is an act of free choice really an intrinsically human act.

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